Thursday, December 27, 2012

Veteran's Spousal Benefits

On Veteran’s Day, I wrote about Veterans and benefits that are offered through the Veteran’s Administration that vets and their spouses may or may not know about. Thank you to Beth Guilmart, Senior Advocate, for arranging for the Veteran’s Association to again be on hand at The Dale Association to present important information for spouses of veterans; this includes veterans living or deceased. 

FREE Veteran's Spouse Benefit Informative Presentation, January 9th, and April 11th, 2013 from 1:00-3:00 pm at our Centre (33 Ontario St, Lockport, NY). Please RSVP by calling: 716-433-1886.

Guilmart says, “Time and time again, I work with seniors who do not always realize they may qualify for Veteran benefits. More times than not, spouses of deceased veterans think they do not qualify because their husband is deceased; this is not the case.  I think it is important for veterans’ spouses to attend this informational meeting to learn about benefits. Some benefits are overlooked by many families with Veterans or surviving spouses who need additional monies to help care for ailing parents or loved ones.   Coverage and eligibility has changed over the years and veterans, their widows and widowers are encouraged to check on eligibility.  This presentation is the perfect opportunity to learn.” 

  “Wartime Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Benefit” is available to veterans who served during a declared wartime period; their spouses may be eligible, as well; spouses of deceased veterans may also qualify.  The monthly benefits vary depending on monthly cash flow, minus health expenses.  The rent at a senior care facility may be considered a health expense.

Veterans must have served on active duty - but not necessarily in the combat theatre and their discharge from active duty must have been under conditions other than dishonorable.  The Veteran’s Administration recognizes these war periods:

                Mexican Border Period – May 9, 1916 through April 5, 1917, for veterans who served in Mexico, on its borders or in adjacent waters.

                World War I – April 6, 1917 through November 11, 1918 for veterans who served in Russia.  April 6, 1917 through April 1, 1920, extended through July 1, 1921 for veterans who had at least one day of service between April 6, 1917 and November 11, 1918.
                World War II – December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946.

                Korean War – June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955.

                Vietnam War – August 5, 1964 (February 28, 1961 for veterans who served “in country” before August 5, 1964) through May 7, 1975.

                Gulf War – August 2, 1990 through a date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation- still open.

Approval of the application takes approximately 6-9 months, but the benefit is retroactive to the month after the completed application is received by the Veteran’s Administration counselor.  It is imperative that the application is completed accurately and completely to prevent delays.  The following is a list of items you will need before filing an application:

                DD214 or Honorable Discharge
                List of monthly medical expenses
                List of all income – copies of SSA, pension statements, bank statements
                List of all assets
                Copy of Marriage Certificate
                Copy of Death Certificate if surviving spouse is applying

We don’t want our vets, or their widows/widowers to fall through the cracks and loose benefits that they may be eligible for.  There are more benefits than in the past and vets and spouses should check into whether they are eligible.   To register for this free informational presentation on January 9 from 1:00-3:00, please call at 433-1886.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Age Attitudes

There is a sharp contrast between people’s positive attitudes toward growing older and their preparedness, according to the results of a new survey.  The survey reveals that almost three-quarters (72%) of people over the age of 65 do not feel old and 67% still feel healthy.

As perceptions of growing older are overwhelmingly upbeat, people are failing to plan for the potential challenges associated with growing older.  More than one-third of those aged 65+ have made no preparations and only 6% have nominated a family member or caregiver to look after them in their later years.  From a financial perspective, less than one-quarter (22%) of seniors have put aside savings for retirement.

Despite this lack of preparation, people do have worries about the effects of aging.  When respondents over age 65 were asked which disease was most worrisome to them as they got older, dementia was the number one response (37%), ahead of cancer (27%). Across all 12,000 individuals surveyed, losing memory and independence were top concerns.

Alongside these findings, another report reveals that the “informal care network” (families looking after dependent older relatives) is disintegrating while the number of older people in need of care is growing. 

The results of the surveys referenced above were just released; this information validates data from other surveys that reported similar results. With nearly 90 million Americans expected to be over the age of 65 by 2050, the time is now to think about advanced planning, before seniors can no longer do so on their own.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

End of the Year Thank You!

As the year ends and we celebrate the holidays – I wish each of you a joyous and healthy holiday and a happy new year.  And, on behalf of The Dale Association and all charitable organizations in our community thank you for your kindness and seemingly endless generosity this past year. The end of the year is a good time to look back and reflect on those things we are thankful for. 

I’d like to say thank you to all of the people who have donated time, money, and/or items that support our fundraising efforts – those fundraising efforts help pay for the things we do, and therefore help us fulfill our mission in this community. 

Our mission statement…

            “To provide comprehensive services and coordinate connections for adults in Niagara and neighboring counties with enhance their health and wellness and empower them to strengthen bridges to their communities.”

… it serves as a reminder of the reason The Dale Association exists in this community. And therefore, the reason we do the things we do – it may be supporting older individuals with our senior services… it may be assisting seriously and persistently mentally ill adults achieve mental wellness and to stabilize their emotions… it may be enriching the lives of people through our educational classes and volunteering programs… or it may be supporting caregivers by providing resources that help them be better caregivers …or it may be assisting older adults with vision and/or hearing impairments maintain their independence.

Whatever the service, all focus on believing each person has value and we hope to enhance their potential to live their life to the fullest. 

Regardless what your charity of choice is, it is probably their mission and what they do that you believe in.  Almost certainly, I can speak for all charitable organizations when I say that we are so grateful for the generosity of this community, our community, when it comes to delivering each of our missions. All fundraising activities support programs of charities and as I said above, it is what is accomplished with the money and donation of time that really defines each of our purposes. 

The purpose of fundraising is more than about the money – it’s about the results accomplished by our use of the money.  It is through our donors and volunteer supporters and what they give that enables us to make a difference. Fundraising is at its best when we can match our need for donations with your desire to support organizations that have made a difference in your life or the lives of family and friends. Many non-profit charitable organizations all across the nation rely more and more on fundraising as a means to support their mission and the Dale Association is no different.  You may be astonished to know that we need to raise over $300,000 to continue to serve the adults of this community.

This past year, many of you have supported Dale Association fundraising efforts by making a gift to the Annual Giving Campaign, by pledging at our Dale Hearts and Caring People fund, through general donations, by attending events, by becoming a sponsor, or by making a charitable gift through you estate planning.  The money raised helps us sustain our mission in this community.  To all of you – THANK YOU!   And thank you on behalf of all the charities you support all year long. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Long Term Care Reality

If you are among the millions of Americans over age 60 who are exploring long-term care options, the news is troubling.  The average rates for long-term care service in the United States are continuing to rise, according to a new survey.  MetLife has conducted the survey for 10 consecutive years. 
Long term care is the help someone would need who can no longer perform daily activities such as eating, bathing or dressing. This care can be received at home or in an assisted living facility, adult day care center or a nursing home. Most individuals recognized the need to prepare for the cost of long term care, but were largely unprepared. Many Americans surveyed also wrongly believed they had insurance protection, felt that their savings would be adequate to cover long term care costs, and incorrectly believed that Medicare would cover long term care costs.
Findings show that the average cost of semi-private room in a nursing home rose nearly 4% in 2012, from $214 daily (or $78,110 annually) in 2011, to $222 daily (or $81,030 annually).  During the same time period, basic rates for assisted living facilities went up 2.1% from $3,477 monthly (or $41,724 annually) to $3,550 monthly (or $42600 annually). 

Only rates for home health aides and adult day services remained unchanged year to year. 

The survey finds the five year trend in annual cost for a private room in a nursing home increased an average of 4% per year.  The cost for a semi private room increased nearly as much at 3.8%.  Assisted living costs increased the most during the period, at an annual average of 4.1% annually over the past five years, while the average cost of adult day services rose 2.3%.  The five year average annual cost increase for home health aide services was 1.3%.

Most expensive/ least expensive – for the most part, Oklahoma had the lowest private room nursing rate in 2012, averaging $147 per day.  Texas, with the exception of Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston, had the lowest rates for a semi private room in a nursing home at $131 per day.  As in the past, the highest rates were in Alaska, at $687 for a private room and $682 for a semi-private room.  For assisted living communities, Arkansas was found to have the lowest average base rate and Washington, DC had the highest.

According to the Census Bureau, in 2011, 66% of nursing home residents were women.  The median age of residents was 82.6 years.  Over half (56%) of the nursing homes surveyed provide Alzheimer’s or dementia care.

Current estimates indicate the average age of an assisted living resident is 86.4 years old. 

The National Adult Day Services Association estimates there are more than 5,000 adult day centers in the United States serving over 260,000 participants and family caregivers.  More than 75% of those surveyed are open Monday through Friday; 7% are also open on Saturdays and 11% are open seven days a week.

Despite the aging U.S. population with increasing longevity, and spiraling long term care (LTC) costs, according to a different survey of 1,000 people ages 21 to 75 - Americans are less worried today than they were roughly a decade ago about needing and paying for LTC. Long term care is difficult for Americans to think about - in fact, the survey suggests that people are in denial, taking a chance they won't need care or just ignoring the fact that they might.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Depression affects about one in ten older adults and is the leading cause of years of life lost, due to its influence on health and other disabilities.   Depression tends to last longer in elderly adults and increases the risk of death. A recent article indicates that approaches to decrease the prevalence of depression among older adults through broader assessment of other relevant life factors appear promising.

There is some evidence that effective treatment of depression among older adults reduces both symptoms and the risk of recurrence of depression.   Making sure that an elderly person you are concerned about is evaluated and treated is important, even if the depression is mild.  Because they're expected to slow down, doctors and family may miss the diagnosis of depression in elderly people, delaying effective treatment. As a result, many seniors find themselves having to cope with symptoms that could otherwise be easily treated.

Depression in later life frequently coexists with other medical illnesses and disabilities.  Factors that increase the risk of depression in the elderly include: Being female, unmarried (especially if widowed), stressful life events, and lack of a supportive social network. Having physical conditions like stroke, cancer and dementia further increases that risk. While depression may be an effect of certain health problems, it can also increase a person’s risk of developing other illnesses -- primarily those affecting the immune system, like infections.

Depression tends to last longer in elderly adults and increases the risk of death. Studies of nursing home patients with physical illnesses have shown that the presence of depression substantially increased the likelihood of death from those illnesses. Depression also has been associated with increased risk of death following a heart attack.

Making sure that an elderly person you are concerned about is evaluated and treated is an easy way to avoid escalation of symptoms of depression and related health conditions.

The Dale Association's Geriatric Community Mental Health Nurse, Kathleen Kyle, regularly meets with people age 50 and older in Niagara County, who experience depression (and other mental health illnesses). Kathleen is an empathetic listener with knowledge and experience designed to facilitate improved mental health. She links people with the community resources needed. Kathleen's services are provided at no cost and are completely voluntary. To speak confidentially to Kathleen Kyle, call: 716-433-3344, ext. 5.